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Report: Barcelona seek €100m investment in Barca Studios production hub

La Liga outfit looking to raise funds to help offset €1.35bn debt.

4 October 2021 Ed Dixon

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  • Club president Joan Laporta targeting minority sale and further investment in Barca Studios worth €50m apiece
  • Barca hoping new partner will help production house to better commercialise content
  • Spanish side recently announced loss of €481m for 2020/21

Spanish soccer giants Barcelona are looking to raise €100 million (US$116 million) from their Barca Studios production house to help offset the club’s massive debts, according to 2Playbook.

The sports business outlet reports that Barca president Joan Laporta hopes to bring in €50 million (US$58.1 million) in cash by selling off a minority stake in Barca Studios, with the buyer then investing a further €50 million into the club’s production arm.

Barca announced the launch of their in-house production hub in January 2019, which is now responsible for the creation, production and distribution of all of the La Liga side’s audiovisual content. A fictional teen drama series based around the club’s La Masia academy was among the announced projects.

Since then, 2Playbook noted in December 2020 that Barca Studios was generating more than €30 million (US$34.8 million) in revenue and had earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of €17 million (US$19.7 million).

However, with the club’s debt now sitting a whopping €1.35 billion (US$1.57 billion), Barca Studios has been identified as one of a number of divisions that the Catalan outfit can raise funds from. Even prior to Laporta, 2Playbook reported that former president Josep Maria Bartomeu was looking to bring in €100 million via the sale of a 49 per cent stake in Barca Studios.

Bartomeu’s proposal was part of plans to sell off a stake in Barca Corporate a subsidiary business that, as well as Barca Studios, houses the Barca Academy project, Barca Innovation Hub, and Barca Licensing and Merchandising (BLM).

In April, Spanish newspaper El Confidencial reported that European investment group Investindustrial made a €200 million (US$232 million) offer to acquire 49 per cent of Barca Corporate.

2Playbook also reported that the investment was worth as much as €400 million (US$464 million). It added that the four contenders were the Blackstone, Abry Partners and Artos private equity firms, as well as a consortium that featured Investindustrial, Elysian and Fanatics. Laporta purportedly called off this deal, with 2Playbook saying he found the proposal ‘unattractive’.

Should a deal for Barca Studios go through this time, 2Playbook reports the club hope that, as well as the short-term benefits of any investment, an industry partner will enable the production house to better develop, accelerate and commercialise its content. 2Playbook’s report also says Barca Studios has been valued at €200 million.

It is the latest move by Laporta to return Barca to financial health. In addition to its eye-watering debt, the club posted a loss of €481 million (US$558 million) after tax for the 2020/21 financial year. Revenue came to €631 million (US$733 million), a year-on-year (YoY) drop of 26 per cent and well short of the €828 million (US$961 million) set in the budget.

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